Craig Stammen is a new college graduate

The package will arrive soon, and that will be enough for Craig Stammen. The University of Dayton commencement for the Class of 2014 will take place Sunday. Stammen needs to be in the bullpen at Citizens Bank Park, and so he will receive his diploma by mail.

(Al Behrman / AP)
Craig Stammen, graduate. (Al Behrman/Associated Press)

“I’d rather not throw on that cap and gown, anyway,” Stammen said. “It’s really not that important to me. The fact that I accomplished it is important.”

Eleven years after he first set foot on campus at Dayton, Stammen has finished his college degree in entrepreneurship. He attended class at Dayton for the first three weeks of the spring semester, continued his work through spring training and fought through finals during the opening month of the regular season. This week, he finished – Stammen will graduate.

“I’m glad it’s over with,” Stammen said. “It’s just something I wanted to get done. Now it’s finally over. It was a fun experience. I’m glad that weight is off my shoulders, and that stress of having to get stuff done on time is over.”

Stammen had chipped away at his degree since he left Dayton for the draft after his junior season in 2005. He needed to finish three classes this spring. He had plenty of time during spring training, when he interviewed Nationals assistant general manager Bryan Minniti for a business communications project.

“Once the season started, it was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. The offseason was easy. Spring training was pretty easy, because there’s a lot of downtime in spring training. Once the season started, I didn’t realize how much I just don’t feel like doing a whole lot besides thinking about the game, going to the park and worrying about that.”

During the spring, Stammen kept up with the classmates he left behind online. Once opening day arrived, he focused on baseball and slacked on studies – he had neither the energy nor the time. This past week, he had two final exams to study for and a paper to write.

He blocked off time in his schedule to do the work, devoting five hours at a time to classwork. A recent spate of off days helped. “It was a little bit of a stressful thing,” Stammen said. “I was lucky I didn’t have as much of a workload towards the end of the semester as I did at the start.”

Last week, Stammen used his iPod to film part of a group project in his human resource and management class. All the other members of his group wore business attire. Stammen filmed his in the Nationals Park bullpen, wearing his business attire – a baseball uniform.

“I just crammed it all in and got it done,” Stammen said.

For now, Stammen’s diploma represents the accomplishment of a goal more than a tangible tool. After his playing career ends, he wants to stay involved with baseball in some aspect, even if that means coaching a high school team. He could use his business degree to help run his father’s hardware store in North Star, Ohio, which the Stammen family has owned for 90 years.

“It’s a source of pride, and my dad is very proud of it,” Stammen said. “I know he would be tickled to death if he could pass it down to one of his sons.”

Stammen’s younger brother will march Sunday at his own graduation at Ohio State. He’s glad his parents won’t have to choose between ceremonies. “They’ve been to enough of my baseball games,” Stammen said. “He deserves a little bit of credit.”

Adam Kilgore covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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